Don’t look to the skies, for they bear nothing but ill will! If you find yourself in the mood for a flick that features the entire planet in jeopardy, here are a few alien invasion movies that are out of this world — and that you can watch right now, before the motherships really get here.
The one Roland Emmerich/Dean Devlin outing that everyone seems to actually like (without going so far as to say it’s actually a “good movie”), Independence Day (or ID4, for whatever reason) features the Earth being invaded by a massive and rather destructive alien force (the White House and the Empire State Building are blown to kingdom come, amongst other landmarks) — and only Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and a laptop computer can stop them. The movie’s all sorts of rousing fun, despite being completely and totally preposterous — Bill Pullman‘s fighter-pilot President is especially aces, with a rah-rah speech that’s become the stuff of movie legend, and Judd Hirsch somehow manages to steal scenes from Goldblum. Best shot: when the dog leaps for safety at the very last micro-second in the tunnel. Yes!!
Until it starts to self-destruct in the third act when M. Night Shyamalan‘s dark fable trades heavy-handed symbolism for basic logic, Signs is a terrifically scary flick, with a relentlessly unnerving sound design involving radio static and scurrying footsteps on the roof. M. Night’s knack for tone, pacing and atmosphere really shines through here (for the most part), and Mel Gibson‘s encounter with one of the grey men in his neighbor’s kitchen is one of the most intense sci-fi movie moments ever. Unfortunately, M. Night’s knack for silliness also starts to creep in before the show’s over, but before Joaquin Phoenix begins to “swing away” and the aliens are dispatched by, uh, water, you get some great scares — and some rather touching moments, too (the dinner table scene is awesome, and you know it).
A no-holds-bard, completely unapologetic gross-out of a movie, the remake of The Blob goes all-out with ’80s gore as a disgusting pinkish mass of goo from outer space (OR IS IT?) gobbles up everything in its path, including a ten-year-old kid (definitely one of the movie’s show-stopper moments). A well-made and affectionate reimagining of the 1958 original, this Blob actually stands proudly next to David Cronenberg‘s The Fly and John Carpenter‘s The Thing as ’80s sci-fi horror outings that actually improve upon their ’50s counterparts. Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith hold their own against the star of the film, a combination of old-fashioned practical effects and a handful of now hopelessly dated computer tinkering.
It hasn’t aged very well (as the recent reboot has certainly proved), but take your mind and soul (if not your body) back to the early ’80s and V is still a blast and a half, filled with heavy-handed politics mixed with cheap B-movie sci-fi laser battles (and truly awful costumes). If nothing else, V warned us that if 50 gigantic alien spacecrafts suddenly touch down in various locales around the world under the guise of friendship, peace and knowledge, it’s probably a damn lie — and they probably look like lizards underneath that human skin, too. V doesn’t quite hit the paranoia highs of something like Invasion of the Body Snatchers but, if nothing else, it makes for terrific nostalgia — and the alien baby scene is still pretty unnerving.
The Keanu Reeves remake looks pretty and all, but the original film is the real deal, as an alien ambassador and his big robot pal Gort land on our planet with a message of goodwill and we respond with some good old-fashioned earthling violence. A sci-fi flick with a political agenda if there ever was one, Day warned us against the evils of atomic power and, well, warfare in general. The movie succeeds on many levels, not the least of which is the imposing and unnervingly simplistic design of Gort, and the film’s ’50s straight-faced earnestness actually makes it all the more compelling rather than laughable. Day sports a comparatively outlandish “What if?” scenario, but one that should be heeded by us cranky and war-like creatures.
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